RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — COVID-19 was the third-leading cause of death in the United States in 2021.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday identified differences in death rates that persist between racial and ethnic minority groups.

The CDC says for the second year in a row, COVID-19 trailed only heart disease and cancer as the leading causes of death in the U.S.

Nearly 12,000 North Carolinians died of COVID-19 in 2021, compared to just over 8,000 in 2020.

The overall age-adjusted death rate increased by almost 1 percent from 2020 to 2021.

Another report from the CDC says the differences in COVID death rates decreased among most racial and ethnic groups.